Are cell phones a cause of disappearance of bees?

May 16, 2011 7:25am

•  Swiss experiments suggest a connection

•  ‘Active mobile phone handsets have a dramatic impact on the behavior of the bees’

Experiments by a Swiss scientist suggest there could be a connect ion between cell phone radiation and colony collapse disorder, the name given to the sudden and inexplicable disappearance of honeybees.

But the scientist, Daniel Favre, scientific collaborator in the Laboratory of Cellular Biotechnology at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland, is quick to note that additional research is needed.

In his experiments, mobile phone handsets were placed close to honeybees in their hives and the sounds made by the bees recorded and analyzed.

“The audiograms and spectrograms revealed that active mobile phone handsets have a dramatic impact on the behavior of the bees, namely by inducing the worker piping signal. In natural conditions, worker piping either announces the swarming process of the bee colony or is a signal of a disturbed bee colony,” Mr. Favre’s report says.

Shortly after the phones were turned off, the bee sounds returned to normal, he says.

Mr. Favre notes that honeybees possess magnetite crystals in their fat body cells and they can be affected by electromagnetic fields. “Honeybees can be trained to respond to very small changes in the constant local geomagnetic field intensity,” he notes.

“The results of the present pilot study clearly show that the presence of actively communicating mobile phone handsets in the close vicinity of honeybees had a dramatic effect, namely the induction of worker piping which was regularly observed about 25 to 40 minutes after the onset of the mobile phone communication,” he writes.

Other theories about what might cause colony collapse disorder include the invasive varroa mite, the poisoning of the bees by pesticides, stress-caused suppression of the bees’ immune systems, drought, low food values, migratory stress because colonies are moved hundreds of miles by beekeepers to keep pace with the annual south-to-north blooms, and more.

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